I’ve mentioned this quite a bit within the feedback earlier than, in individual and within the physique of this publish. Let me say it yet one more time, proper up right here at first: Until you might be an knowledgeable mushroom hunter and you may 100 % determine this mushroom, DON’T EAT IT. I wrote this publish for different specialists, not for simply anybody to suppose they’ve discovered A. muscaria. That is critical stuff, people. Mistake this mushroom for an additional amanita and you’ll be able to die. Critically. ~Hank
No mushroom presents extra of an enigma than the legal highs fly agaric, Amanita muscaria. It’s the most recognizable mushroom on the planet, and is broadly referred to as the hallucinatory ‘shroom liable for Alice’s journey into Wonderland and fairly presumably our beloved photographs of a red-suited Santa Claus and his flying reindeer.
I’m not into hallucinations. Or abdomen cramping, for that matter. So for years I let this stunning mushroom go on my mushroom hunts. Till final weekend. We had been ostensibly looking for porcini, Boletus edulis, however as any king bolete hunter is aware of, the fly agaric is actually a crimson flag indicating porcino may be nestled close by: They flush across the similar time, in across the similar place. And the place we had been on California’s Central Coast there have been hundreds of muscaria, a crimson tide within the woods.
As we walked, selecting porcini and different fantastic boletes, I started having a nagging dialog with myself: you’ll be able to eat these amanitas, proper? Sure, however don’t they want all types of loopy processing first? Most likely. However you’ll by no means get a greater likelihood to experiment than with this flush proper right here, proper now. OK, OK. I grabbed a separate bag and started selecting.
I crammed a grocery bag very quickly. In reality, I may have crammed the again of my pickup with muscaria. However I additionally had an enormous haul of porcini, the prize of the day. So I handled them first. My dehydrator ran morning and evening for days. I made porcini powder, dried quarts of porcini, made porcini risotto, and even gave some recent ones as Christmas presents. All of the whereas my sack of amanitas lay uncared for within the storage.
I got here up for air a number of days in the past and determined to perform a little research. I’ve loads of mushroom books. Most say that Amanita muscaria is poisonous and hallucinatory. A number of name it lethal toxic, which appears to be a stretch contemplating there are fewer than a handful of confirmed deaths by this mushroom and all have extenuating circumstances. (A aspect observe: fly agaric seems to be engaging to canines and cats and may kill them in the event that they eat it, so hold it away out of your pets!)
There’s additionally, apparently, a complete fashionable subculture devoted to tripping on this mushroom, and its use in visions dates again hundreds of years — particularly amongst those that reside within the boreal forests of the north.
That is the place Santa is available in. My colleague Greg Marley, whose wonderful e-book Chanterelle Desires, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystique of Mushrooms goes into this at size, says that fly agaric has been a logo of yuletide happiness in Central Europe, Russia and Scandinavia for hundreds of years, calling it “a crimson gentle shining vibrant within the winter darkness.” And the folks of the North, as any mushroom hunter is aware of, are mad about mushrooms.